Of the areas for the Boston Bruins that needs fixing this off-season, maybe chief among them is a retooling of a defensive unit that broke down versus the speedy and agile Montreal Canadiens in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Many point to the fact that the Bruins did not have enough speed or puck-moving ability on the blue-line to maintain a level of sustainability for the team that prides itself on structure in it's own zone.
When Dennis Seidenberg was lost for the season with torn ligaments in his knee and Adam McQuaid suffering from a multitude of setbacks in his recovery from thigh and ankle issues, the Bruins were ready to pull the trigger on a semi-blockbuster deal at the trade deadline back in March.
|Could Edler find himself in a spoked-B before too long? (via hockeydraft.ca.com)|
The Bruins had targeted Alexander Edler from the Vancouver Canucks, a puck-moving, smooth-skating defenseman that would have slotted into the second pairing on the blue-line in place of Seidenberg. Boston was set to trade either forwards Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khokhlachev, along with Matt Bartkowski, in exchange for Edler. The trade for Edler was so close to being a done deal that Boston even got the Phildelphia Flyers to pick up half of newly-acquired Andrej Meszaros' $4 million contract, which would have given the Bruins enough cap space to fit Edler into the fold.
But as we know, time ran up on the proposed deal, and the Bruins were left with Mezaros and Corey Potter as their haul at the deadline, both of whom had little to zero impact on the ice when it came to helping the Bruins advance towards the Cup.
Now, with Jim Benning taking the general manger's job in Vancouver, could the deal for Edler be revisited for Boston?
Benning will be taking over a Canucks team that finds itself in a position they haven't been in in quite some time. Under the now fired John Tortorella, Vancouver missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They traded their franchise goalie Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers. They were thisclose to trading both Ryan Kesler and the aforementioned Edler in separate deals, which would have signaled the end of an era in Van City and a turn in a much different direction.
With Benning now at the helm, will the new GM explore all possible moves needed to assure that he constructs the Canucks in his vision? And if he wants to do his old boss Peter Chiarelli a solid in the process, then it works for both parties involved.
Would the parameters of the deal change? Probably. Benning is well-known for his advanced abilities as an NHL scout, and if he believes a different mix of players would be necessary to trade for a player of Edler's caliber, it would be hard for Chiarelli to pull a fast one on Benning, seeing as how he scouted and assisted in the drafting of practically every player in the Bruins current farm system.
It became very evident about halfway into the second round series with Montreal that the Bruins had some serious issues on defense. After having a brutal Game 1, Bartkowski was benched in favor of Meszaros for Games 2 and 3. Meszaros did none better for the B's in either game, and coach Claude Julien again made the switch, playing Bartkowski for the remainder of the series.
Throughout the series vs the Habs, the Bruins were constantly overrun by Montreal's unrelenting forecheck, leaving the Boston defenders scrambling in their own zone when trying to make even the simplest of plays. The numerous defensive breakdowns through seven games was one of the reasons why Boston lost their series to Montreal. It is something that needs to be addressed this off-season in a big way; a few pieces here or there will not cut it for the Black and Gold.
With the Bruins facing a number of questions this summer, the consensus #1 will be how to improve a defensive core that found itself overrun by a vicious forecheck shift after shift. Adding a piece like Edler would go a long way to making sure the Bruins have enough puck-moving skill and skating ability to counter a playing style such as that.
With old friend Jim Benning taking over the reigns in Vancouver, will Peter Chiarelli finally be able to get his man?
Let's hope so.